One thing we gamers never really think of - at
least not that often - is the next generation of gamers. Outside the
gaming community, it's regarded as a "kid's" thing - the image
of small children to teenagers sitting around a TV happily playing
around on the Nintendo.
Yet consider the following: the average age of
a gamer is 29 years old. Yes, that's right. The same kids who were 9
years old the year of 1984 - the great console gaming crash in America -
are now 29 and still playing.
Twenty-nine is decently on in years. Not all
gamers are that old, of course. Some are older, some are younger. Some,
like Gabe, have started in on the
next generation. And there are certainly plenty of kids playing, as
evidenced by the popularity of "cutesy" titles like Pokemon.
It's old enough that rated-M titles have a decent audience. And of
course it lets sites like Gamerdad
flourish too, as gamer parents try to decide what's okay for their kids
The gender gap is thankfully shrinking, too.
When I was out at A-Kon this year checking out the video game
tournaments, I was heartened to see that the brackets were about 25%
female; give it a few more years, and it will hopefully go higher. The
day that game makers shake off the idea that girl gamers only want to
see puzzle games or cute, fuzzy things, the day that their games stop
insulting the intelligence of female gamers, we not only will see more
girl gamers but we'll start seeing a lot more games where it just
doesn't matter where the player is a guy or a girl.
That being said, games still need to mature a
bit. The ongoing debate over open-ended games (like Grand Theft Auto)
versus playable movies (like the Legacy of Kain line) continues.
Afficionadoes of one style can't seem to accept that the other style is
just as good, and that each has its own merits. Deus Ex wouldn't have
been half as good if it hadn't had a number of plot hooks; yes, it gave
the player some room to maneuver, but eventually the storyline had to
continue. This may be well exploited in the online modes of MechAssault
2, which appear to be bringing into play the online multiplayer
Battletech modes of warring over control for the Universe once more.
In the growing up we have done, we've also lost
a certain respect for the simpler games. Pac-Man, Arkanoid, and all
sorts of classic games can still attract a player, because they don't
require a lot of learning to play; likewise, the old console titles of
the Atari, NES, and SNES days live on. Yet "hard-core" gamers
dismiss the titles as being immature, not seeing that they too are fun
to play. With all sincere honesty, it's still just as much fun playing
Chrono Trigger as it is playing the latest Final Fantasy title; the only
thing that's really changed in the RPG genre has been the graphics.
Likewise, players who enjoy Mario 64 or Super Mario Sunshine may as well
pick up Super Mario Bros. 3 for a lark now and again. Nintendo's
actually picked up on this, as evidenced by its re-releasing of various
NES titles on the Gameboy Advance.
The gamer culture is getting older. Perhaps
this was a rant, perhaps this was an introspective... perhaps neither.
Where we go from here is anyone's guess; video games, and gaming in
general, is becoming mainstream. In some ways, it's a good thing.
There's also potential for abuse, as seen by the attempts to make
"convergence" devices the way of the future; anyone who's ever
owned a TV/VCR combination unit can tell you what's wrong with that
On the upside, I pick my copy of Fable up on
Wednesday of this week. The game's either going to rock, or terminally
suck, but I can guarantee it will be a unique game... and that in itself
is reason to make me smile. There's still plenty of room for innovation
and imagination in the world of gaming, and there are plenty of ideas
we'll be leaving behind for the next generation of gamers to improve on
Got Comments? Send 'em to
Michael (at) Glideunderground.com!
Alternatively, post 'em right here for everyone to see!